Monday, December 17, 2012


There is the heavy drone of the AC labouring to keep the heat out. The sounds bounce off of the cement walls and glass windows in a way that oddly enough complements the humming bass of the AC. To me it is more than ambient noise that must be tolerated when one pays homage to our churches of consumption. I wonder what these sounds mean to others? What is it about noise that we value so much? My mom belongs to that generation (and class?) of Filipinos who seem to associate noise with gaiety, and with gaiety - well-being. Silence or lack of noise makes my mom uncomfortable. Noise means happiness.


We take for granted the structures which hold the shell of our bodies, and within them our diwa, our malay. Being away from home allows me to see anew these same everyday structures/strictures.I see class everywhere. Even more so in these conspicuous spaces of consumption. It is most apparent in the manner of speech. Today I went into two coffee shops. This morning it was Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. This afternoon it is Caffe Bene. Both times the ladies behind the counter who took my order addressed me in English even when I spoke to them in Filipino. Now I wonder if this is standard policy. Will the speaking of Filipino somehow break the fantasy of luxe which they carefully conjure the moment I step through their doors? Will it somehow remind me that the space out there - public space - is not like the privileged private space in here, the price of which is probably included in my
coffee cup? Class. I see it in Singapore of course. But right here, right now in Manila I am reminded that we need not be of different skin colour or nationality for there to be deep inequality.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I am going to stop procrastinating about not writing and just write. Whatever drivel comes will come. At least there is something to work on, something to cultivate, something to shape and mould into a semblance of something. I pledge to become a diarist once more. To write and chronicle, to put ideas to paper. So I start tonight.

I wonder if there is something about getting older that tempers the urge to purge on paper? Is it because life has become less urgent? Life is no longer a series of novelties and excitement? Is it because body and soul have learned not to keep looking forward to what lies beyond the curvature of time, and to savour the present, to count the precious seconds of now? I don't know. Perhaps it is that. It could have also been a mini burn-out. This past year was tough on my brain. If it were a muscle mine would have been fit enough to join a decathlon. I felt no urge to write the mundane. And no urge to write the not-academic substantial. So there was no middle ground. Perhaps I had learned to associate putting fingers to keyboard with hardship and chore. Writing was no longer a refuge, a pleasure, an unburdening. Writing was work. Thinking was work. Well, I have some precious weeks to not write/think as work. I am taking back this practice from the deep, dark corner of dissertating and bringing it out to the love and light of keyboard licks and clicks, of putting words to the voice in my head.


These always looked better on you. A moment of quiet since I got back in Manila. A moment to miss you. The city is never asleep. It is loud, kinetic, frenzied. Christmas season it is. I wish you were here.